It’s the age old story, really.
Chapter 29: Betrayed
Yesterday (because that’s how we roll now), we left our heroes (or… whatever) in a situation where it sounded like Jared was looking for Wanderer because he wanted to kill her, but it turns out he just promised Jamie he’d talk to Wanderer! Man, you sure had me fooled with your totally not-crazy calls of “Come out, come out, wherever you are”, Jared!
Jared wants to talk to Wanderer alone. Ian thinks this is a stupid idea, but Wanderer uses Wanderer-logic to determine that, nah, it’s totally probably fine because Wanderer knows Jared knows that Wanderer knows he wouldn’t break a promise to Jamie, even though Jared doesn’t trust Wanderer, so it makes no sense why he would know that Wanderer would know this, because she would only talk to him if she knew, and why would he plan that if he didn’t know she knew he knew she knew?
The conversation shapes up to be the exact same scene we’ve already read twice before with Jeb and Jamie, because we really gotta draw out this whole “people find out Melanie is alive” thing. And I mean really, because while Wanderer trusted Jeb and Jamie with the truth, she doesn’t trust Jared to believe her answer.
I’m already a liar to him, I told [Melanie]. He doesn’t want the truth – he’s just looking for evidence, some way to prove me a liar, a Seeker, to Jeb and Jamie so that he’ll be allowed to kill me.
Which, yeah, is kind of a tricky spot, because she can’t actually say yes or no to his question. It immediately becomes less interesting when her plan is to just ignore him all chapter.
Melanie refused to answer or believe me; it was a struggle to keep her silent.
Jared watched the sweat bead on my forehead, the strange shiver that shook down my spine, and his eyes narrowed. [...]
Jared, I love you, she tried to scream. I’m right here.
My lips didn’t quiver, but I was surprised that he couldn’t read the words spelled out plainly in my eyes.
Time passed slowly while he waited for my answer. It was agonizing. (Matthew’s note: chyeah)
Per usual, Melanie is only a character in this book when there’s a man around.
He scooted down the mat until he sat right beside me – the way Melanie had hoped for. [...] Oddly, for this was what she’d wanted in the first place, Melanie was suddenly irritated.
What? I asked, startled by the intensity of her emotion.
I don’t like him next to you. It doesn’t feel right. I don’t like the way you want him there.
Ariel says: This was when I truly realized that Melanie and Wanderer’s friendship would be tested by their shared love for Jared. What does one do when the alien that takes over her body falls in love with the man that she forced the alien to fall in love with so that she could emotionally manipulate her into finding him? It’s so much more gripping than if it was just a regular love triangle where there wasn’t a shared body.
I guess they could handle this by Wanderer retreating into the other corner of their brain for a bit while Melanie and Jared get it on sometimes. Meyer makes up new rules for this shared body thing every five minutes anyway!
Then Jared kisses her, and, yes, this scene can get even more awkward. Here’s how Meyer writes the long-awaited make out:
I think he meant just to touch his lips to mine, to be soft, but things changed when our skin met. His mouth was abruptly hard and rough, his hands trapped my face to his while his lips moved mine in urgent, unfamiliar patterns. It was so different from remembering, so much stronger. [...] The body revolted. I was no longer in control of it – it was in control of me. It was not Melanie – the body was stronger than either of us now.
With BILLIONS OF GODDAMN WORDS. There are pages of that shit. You know how The Perks of Being a Wallflower describes the long-awaited make out? With LESS WORDS.
So, I kissed her. And she kissed me back. And we lay down on the floor and kept kissing. And it was soft. And we made quiet noises. And kept silent. And still. [...] And we touched each other from the waist up over the clothes. And then under our clothes. And then without clothes. And it was so beautiful. She was so beautiful.
Also notice how much more emotional that is, despite all the pains Meyer goes through to convey the ohmygoodnessgraciousheavensmamaagentlemancaller levels of FEELINGS going on right now? And then Melanie fights through enough to punch Jared in the face. Which, humorously enough, I read and thought, “You know what would be funny? If because he got punched in the face when he kissed her, he suddenly knew that Melanie was still alive.”
Jared’s low, rough voice – broken and strangely childlike – asked, “Mel?”
I’m like a Host whisperer.
Chapter 30: Abbreviated
Okay, I know it’s gonna look like I just got lazy and didn’t feel like writing up about my second chapter, but I swear, nothing happens in this chapter. Melanie is upset because Jared kissed Wanderer, Wanderer is upset that Jared kissed her because he wanted to kiss Melanie, Wanderer explains this to Melanie, Jared explains this to Melanie, and nobody understands why they’re so miserable.
Jared leaves, Wanderer is too emotional to go back to the others, Wanderer goes on for a really long time about how she’s standing in a really weird position in the storage cave, Jamie comes the next day and makes Wanderer go to the kitchen to eat food, and the other humans show up because they want more stories from Wanderer as if nothing’s changed. That’s the point of this chapter: that nothing has changed. And this isn’t a bad plot point by itself, but when it’s a plot point in a plot where nothing ever happens, yes, this is awful.
Ariel says: There’s also this really idiotic part where Wanderer is sad because Melanie is giving her the cold shoulder…in their brain. Teenage girl drama at it’s finest, I guess. It’s like, “Talk to the invisible wall that is sometimes in our head, bitch. Cause I ain’t got nothing to say to you.”
Wanderer rightfully wonders why she is being punished even though it was Jared’s stupid test. I’d make fun of the book right now, but it’s classic girl drama. Although it is confusing why Melanie feels betrayed that Jared was testing the creature that took over her body; she can’t possibly believe he did it because he developed feelings for Wanderer. Although there’s also mention that she’s mad that Jared didn’t immediately know she was still in there. DUMB!
The rest of the chapter is endless narration about Wanderer doubting whether she fits in, Wanderer dealing with her feelings about Jared, Ian asking during storytime what Wanderer meant by “the Vultures were ‘unkind’” from the Souls’ origin story which the book then completely ignores and continues to not answer, because apparently this isn’t a question as worth answering as how many fucking bathrooms Jeb built in the cave.
Ariel says: Oh my God, I’m so glad Matt pointed this out. When I read that, I got so mad!! When Wanderer first refused to explain why the vultures were unkind, I was half-joking when I said I was annoyed. So I was kind of intrigued when Ian brought it up again, and I was like, oh, so this is important! BUT IT WAS JUST BRUSHED OVER AGAIN!
It wasn’t something I had explained , but I was pretty sure he wasn’t really that interested— this was just the first question he’d been able to think of.
Or was it Meyer who thought of this question and then wasn’t interested in answering? Riddle me that…Meyer!
Then the chapter ends with Wanderer being taken to a man dying of cancer [Ariel adds: He's some dude named Walter who apparently Wanderer really likes, and who has supposedly been asking for her to come see him. This is also why everyone was crying in the last chapter. Not because Wanda was sentenced to death. AWESOME REVEAL, MEYER!]. Christ, if cancer can’t get Meyer to stop writing about teenage girls thinking about boys for so much as a page, then I don’t know what will.